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Fall 2008 Vol. VII, No. 1

Alumni Happenings

REUNION 2008

More than 700 alumni converged on the AUB campus this summer to attend an activities-packed reunion organized by AUB’s only officially recognized alumni association, the Worldwide Alumni Association of the American University of Beirut (WAAAUB).

From June 30 to July 2, 11 classes from 1953 to 2003 celebrating their 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th, 45th, 50th, and 55th reunions got a chance to rediscover the campus and meet old friends. On June 30, more than 160 alumni were honored on the occasion of their 25th and 50th reunions at a ceremony in Assembly Hall attended by President John Waterbury and a large crowd of AUB alumni and friends. 1958 graduate and keynote speaker Adnan Bseisu, chair and CEO of the Bahrain-based Middle East Consultancy Center, spoke about the impact on his life of the four principles that he learned at AUB: the value of a liberal arts education, freedom of thought and expression, tolerance for others, and respect for diversity and dialogue. Alumnus and TV talk show host Ricardo Karam (BS ’91) inspired the crowd in Assembly Hall with words of hope: “You, dear alumni, are the creators of success,” he said. “We are here tonight to say that Beirut will shine for ever… as long as AUB and its alumni hold onto their drive to succeed. Beirut is proud of you. AUB is proud of you.”

This remarkable evening ended with a rooftop reception at the recently opened Charles W. Hostler Student Center.

Keynote speaker Saudi ARAMCO President and Chief Executive Officer Abdallah S. Jum’ah (BA ’68) launched the second day of Reunion 2008 by urging fellow alumni to uphold AUB’s educational mission: “The University stands proudly as a bastion of civilized discourse, intellectual inquiry, and of the primacy of peace over war and mind over might… And I can’t help but think that this would be a much better and brighter world for all, if the spirit of AUB was encountered more often and in more places…” The next item on the agenda for AUB alumni was the opportunity to attend a briefing from the dean on the most recent developments in each of AUB’s six faculties.

Everyone gathered later that evening for a night to remember: an open-air concert on the Green Oval by Hanine y Son Cubano. Reunion activities on the third and final day featured a brunch at Mir Amin Hotel and a gala dinner at the Saint Georges Yacht Club.

MIDDLE EAST

WAAAUB Iftar, Lebanon
At their annual iftar on September 15 at the AUB Faculty Cafeteria, Dr. Makkawi briefed WAAAUB members in Lebanon on the association’s activities in 2008 and encouraged WAAAUB Board and Council members to attend WAAAUB events in Lebanon and abroad. The fattouch and lentil soup were a big hit.

Eastern Province
More than 500 AUB alumni and friends attended the suhour night on September 11 organized by the Eastern Province alumni branch in honor of Saudi Aramco President Abdullah S. Jum’ah, and AUB President Peter Dorman. President Dorman thanked alumni for making the AUB Campaign for Excellence a great success and said that he looks forward to reaching out to AUB alumni worldwide. Jum’ah (BA ’68), the evening’s keynote speaker, welcomed President Dorman and spoke about AUB’s history and its global impact in educating leaders who have gone on to help their countries and businesses succeed. “The most successful societies on earth are characterized by knowledge based economies powered by intellectual effort and endeavor,” said Jum’ah. AUB Alumni Council member Marwan Gholmieh, vice president of Saudi Arabian general contractor Nesma & Partners, coordinated the grand event.

Jeddah
On Friday September 12, the Jeddah alumni held an “outrageous” suhour at the Hilton Hotel of Jeddah to welcome President Peter Dorman. It was
Dorman's first visit to Saudi Arabia as AUB president. “Those were the days,” “I wish I could go back to AUB,” “I really miss my Main Gate coffee,” and similar emotional comments were heard throughout the event, which was supported by a number of leading contracting, engineering, and business firms. This successful event has raised the bar once again for this active committee.

Kuwait
The AUB Alumni Society in Kuwait held its second annual Ramadan suhour (locally expressed as the ghabga) on September 20 at the JW Marriott in Kuwait City for 200 alumni, their families and friends. The Ramadan-decorated ballroom had a panoramic view of Kuwait City, and the live Oriental band playing favorite oldies, the sheesha and the delicious suhour buffet kept everyone entertained until 1:30 in the morning.

EUROPE

UK Chapter

NORTH AMERICA

WAAAUB’s Inaugural North American Gathering
Alumni from throughout North America journeyed to Washington DC September 26-28 to meet with WAAAUB leadership, fellow chapter leaders, and with each other. From Florida, New Mexico, Pennsylvania to Montreal, New York, and Michigan participants came from more than 15 states and provinces. The WAAAUB president, secretary, and treasurer (Dr. Khalil Makkawi, Muhieddine Doughan, and Karam Doumet respectively) came from Lebanon and were joined by WAAAUB Vice President Genane Maalouf from California. These regional gatherings are a priority for the WAAAUB Chapters Committee (chaired by Musa Freiji, who was also in Washington) as they work to strengthen regional networks and encourage greater communication among chapters and with the WAAAUB leadership.

While learning about the achievements and objectives of WAAAUB’s various governing bodies, AUBites also met new friends and reconnected with old ones. The weekend kicked off with a reception at Neyla Restaurant, an authentic oasis of Lebanese food and hospitality in the Georgetown neighborhood. Saturday and Sunday morning were filled with business meetings which included presentations on the work of the WAAAUB Standing Committees and the roles of the Executive Committee, and updates from the nine chapter leaders in attendance on their own chapter’s activities. Saturday evening local alumni and out of town guests shared a wonderful iftar at a dinner organized by the Greater Washington DC Chapter. The dinner featured a keynote address by noted US author and journalist Robin Wright, who spoke about her newest book, Dreams and Shadows. The gathering wound up with Maha Zabaneh, WAAAUB Board of Directors member and WAAAUB Secretary Mouhieddine Doughan leading a discussion about improving communications among chapters, WAAAUB Council members, and the leadership.

For full details of the Washington DC presentations and more photos, visit the WAAAUB website: www.waaaub.org/news.html

Greater Washington DC Chapter
The DC Chapter hosted Dr. Marwan Muasher (former student, 1972-76) at the Kay Chapel of American University (AU) on August 6 for a discussion of his new book, The Arab Center – The Promise of Moderation. The event, which was cosponsored by the Center for Global Peace at AU, attracted a full house of alumni from across the DC area as well as a group of local—and vocal—friends and academics. AU Professor Edmund Ghareeb moderated the panel that included Dr. Muasher; Assistant Secretary of State, Near Eastern Affairs David Welch, and Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Arabiya TV Hisham Melham, who participated in a polite, if charged, discussion of a book that discusses Arab reform, Arab development, and Muasher’s experiences as a Jordanian diplomat during the first ten years of the peace process. A reception with the best Lebanese treats Washington has to offer followed.

Michigan Chapter

On July 26, the AUB Michigan Chapter partnered with Accenture to support Habitat for Humanity Detroit and help build homes for those in need. The AUB/ Accenture team completed 45 walls, working on site to finish the first floor walls and begin the process of laying the ceiling beams.  Habitat commented that they have never seen a group of volunteers learn a task so quickly and be able to work so independently. 

Northeast Ohio/Cleveland Chapter
Newly elected chapter leadership for 2008–10:
• Mona Kafena DeBaz, president
• Fadi Abdul Karim, vice president
• Nadine Zeidan, secretary
• Tania Cortas, treasurer
• Bassam Abu Jawdeh, member at large
• Armand Kirkorian, member at large
• Mazen Khalil, member at large
• Dalia Bejjani, member at large
• Hind Arafah, member at large
• Irene Farah, member at large

Ohio Valley Chapter
On June 22, Ohio alumni gathered at the Dayton, Ohio home of Dr. Bassam Nakfour and Dr. Randa Slim to meet chapter members, learn about elections and the chapter’s future plans, and enjoy the company of fellow graduates and friends. Thanks to the Nakfours for their gracious hospitality.

On July 20, the chapter held a picnic at Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville, Ohio, which attracted alumni and their families from the Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton areas. The Executive Committee is reaching out to alumni in central Ohio and northern Kentucky to recruit new members and keep current members engaged. Alumni may check the chapter website and photo galleries at http://members.cox.net/ishafik/Welcome.htm

Pittsburgh Chapter
The annual picnic took place in June at North Park and was well attended by chapter members, their families, and a number of AUB friends who enjoyed fine Lebanese BBQ, great food, and games for the little ones. See yinz next year (as they say in “Pittsburghese”).
Chapter Leadership:
• Caesar Azzam, president
• Ali Melhem,vice president
• Samir Saba, treasurer
• Marwan Riffat, secretary

WAAAUB Elections 2009:

Help us maintain the momentum


To all alumni worldwide!
In May 2009, WAAAUB will hold elections for the WAAAUB Board of Directors and WAAAUB Council to replace members whose terms will expire in 2009.

Although the formal call for nominations won’t be issued until January 2009, we urge you to consider how you or someone you know can help WAAAUB maintain its momentum and continue to grow and succeed with the election of talented and dedicated AUB alumni to its governing bodies.

As always, we are counting on the input and participation of all of our alumni to help us succeed in this endeavor. WAAAUB has come a long way since its inception and with your help, we will reach greater heights and further strengthen our valuable AUB alumni network.

AUB alumni who are interested in nominating themselves or a fellow AUBite for consideration to the slate should contact the WAAAUB Nominating Committee at the following email address: nominations-committeee@waaaub.org

Thank you in advance for doing your part and stay tuned for the nominations call.